What is the value of players changing teams this season? In a two-part series, I will look at hitters and pitchers, and their value as we head into the 2017 Fantasy Baseball season.
While there are more players that have changed teams, I am just focusing on the players that will have value in the Fantasy realm.
With the off-season still ongoing, more trades are sure to be made between the publishing of this article and Spring Training.
But these are the players, so far, that will have the most, or least, impact.
Next up we have the pitchers.
2017 Fantasy Baseball: Trading Places; Pitcher Edition
Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
It finally happened. The White Sox jump started their rebuild, trading ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox. It was a move that states the Red Sox want to win now. Adding a proven pitcher like Sale to that rotation, without having to pay ace type money is crucial. He has one guaranteed year left at $12 million, with two very cheap club options totaling $26 million that are going to be picked up. In five All-Star seasons, Sale has compiled a 70-47 record, a 3.04 ERA and a 10.0 K/9 in that span. With the White Sox, Sale was being supported with 4.56 runs per game and in 2016, the Red Sox average 5.4 runs a game. Some may think he can’t rise much higher, but with his stuff and that lineup, I fully expect him to finally get that elusive Cy Young Award in 2017.
Drew Smyly, SP, Seattle Mariners
Smyly went 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA in 175.1 innings pitched. Now, I do not believe this is the player you should expect in 2017. Throughout that time he hasn’t fared that well at Safeco, due in part to facing their potent lineup. The Mariners are hoping to get the 2014 version of Smyly. Split between the Tigers and Rays, Smyly posted a 3.24 ERA in 153 innings pitched, 133 strikeouts and ranked 31st in the MLB with a .238 batting average against. Although Tropicana was the 25th ranked hitter friendly park, Safeco was ranked 27th in the same category. But Smyly’s fly ball tendencies should still play well at his new pitcher friendly stadium.
Dan Straily, SP, Miami Marlins
Straily enjoyed a nice year for Cincinnati. In 2016 he finished with a 14-8 record in 191.1 IP. His 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 162/73 K/BB are the best of his career. What is surprising about his record is, he was actually better at Great American than he was on the road. He had an 8-1 record with a 2.90 ERA and a very good .197 batting average against in a notoriously hitter friendly hitter park. Now he’s moving to a very friendly pitchers park in Miami. Straily looks to slot in as the fourth starter on the Marlins and could return real value in drafts this spring.
Wade Davis, RP, Chicago Cubs
The medical reports on Wade Davis’ forearm didn’t stop the Cubs from dealing for him. They sent Jorge Soler straight up for a closer that, despite the arm troubles, had a 1.87 ERA in 2016. Davis is in the last year of his contract, but for the price, he was a fantastic addition to the Cubs bullpen. He’s not without risk, but the Cubs can afford to use him and the other pitchers in the pen to give Davis ample rest if needed.
Davis had 27 saves in 45 games played. If you can double the games played, he would have led the league with 54 saves. If he comes back healthy, he could lead the league in saves. The biggest question is health; the next is how many save chances the Cubs will have in 2017.
Mark Melancon, RP, San Francisco Giants
The Giants were not able to secure Mark Melancon at the non-waiver deadline last year, so the Nationals got him instead. So after a colossal meltdown by the pen in the NLDS, the Giants went out and signed Melancon to a 4-year, $62 million deal. In Melancon, the Giants are getting a guy who has converted 98 of 104 saves chances the last two seasons. Melancon should have no trouble converting a high percentage of his save opportunities. The Giants committed the fewest errors with 72 and tied for first in fielding percentage. Melancon should have no trouble converting a high percentage of his save opportunities.
Taijuan Walker, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Dealing with bone spurs in his foot last season, Walker was not able to push off the mound. Not being able to use his lower body caused his pitches to not be effective. He gave up 27 home runs in 134.1 innings pitched. Now he is moving from pitcher friendly Safeco, to hitter friendly Chase Field. Walker has come out and said he’s working on a 2-seam fastball to induce more grounders. Although, Arizona did not have the best defense behind their pitchers last season. Some of that was due to the absence of A.J. Pollock.
Walker is still young, and after having surgery to clean up the bone spurs, maybe he can have a bounce-back season. I just wouldn’t count on the ball staying in the yard.
Nate Karns, SP, Kansas City Royals
Kansas City is hoping that they got a steal trading Jarrod Dyson for Nate Karns. Given how last year played out, the 29-year-old did not fare too well. Last year, Karns had a 5.15 ERA in 94 1/3 innings, which he amassed over 15 starts and seven relief appearances. While Karns struck out over a batter per inning at 9.6, he also gave up 4.3 BB/9. That’s not what the Royals are hoping for.
They are optimistic that with his talent, he can get back to his 2015 numbers. While his record wasn’t great at 7-5, he did have a 3.67 ERA and an 8.9 K/9 in the stacked AL East. Also, his 3.4 BB/9 was better, but could still use some improvement. Karns will be competing for a spot at the back-end of the rotation. The good news for the Royals, if he doesn’t make it as a starter, they could move him to a long relief role. Even better, if they don’t want to put him in the pen, he can still be optioned to Triple-A for one more season. As for now, he’s in the falling tier. Monitor this situation in spring training.
Edinson Volquez, SP, Miami Marlins
After not being given a qualifying offer, Edinson Volquez signed a 2-year deal with the Miami Marlins. Volquez had a rough 2016, giving up a career high 113 earned runs and 23 home runs. His 5.37 ERA is the highest since his 6.01 mark in 2013 with the Padres. Some may think that moving back to the National League and to a pitcher friendly park may help, but I don’t see much upside here.
Aroldis Chapman, SP, New York Yankees
Arriving in Chicago after the Cubs traded a litany of prospects for him, Chapman converted 16 saves for his new club. That was in the regular season. He converted four saves in the Cubs championship run, but he wasn’t without a struggle or two. Chapman claimed he was ‘misused’ by Joe Maddon on their World Series run, stating he was tired coming into Game 7. Now, going back to the Bronx, he will be back to familiar territory. With a group of young players, mixed with some veterans, the Yankees should do well if their youth steps up this season. Chapman’s deal includes a no-trade clause, but if he is willing to waive that and go to a contender at the break (if New York is out of the race), his value could see a spike.
Tyson Ross, SP, Texas Rangers
In a not so surprising move, the Padres non-tendered Tyson Ross after he had to have surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in October. The Rangers decided it was worth the risk to sign Ross to a one-year deal worth $6 million guaranteed. Ross can make more through incentives, but this is a nice low-risk deal for the rangers. It wasn’t that long ago that Ross was an All-Star with the Padres. While his win-loss record has never been impressive, he did not get the run support from the padres that he should get from the Rangers.
In 2014 and 2015, Ross had a K/9 of 9.0 and 9.7, respectively … he can miss bats. The only issue moving from Petco to Arlington is if he will be able to keep the ball in the park. Looking at the distances of his home runs given up, only one would have fallen short. So if his rehab goes well, Ross should return about the same value as he did in San Diego, albeit with a better record.
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